The Collegian
Friday, February 23, 2024

UR changes curriculum, only one FYS course required

<p>Graphic by Lily Wood.&nbsp;</p>

Graphic by Lily Wood. 

The University of Richmond will no longer require students to take two first-year seminar courses during their first year, starting with the incoming class of 2028. This change is being made to better implement a variety of courses into the general education curriculum that support student growth and retention of information Kristen Bezio, associate dean of the Jepson School of Leadership Studies said.

The current general education curriculum at UR is intended to allow students access to a broad range of disciplines, the UR website states. 

The process of altering the general education curriculum has been underway since the committee voted to re-evaluate it in 2021, according to the General Education Committee’s section on the UR website

“I think the university has a goal to have a very diverse set of topics so that freshmen can really explore their interests,” Westhampton College’s chair of Student Affairs and sophmore Karine Nguyen said. 

This change to the required curriculum will still allow incoming students to experience the true power of the liberal arts curriculum offered by UR and grant them opportunities to pursue a variety of academic subjects while fulfilling general education requirements according to Bezio.

Through the courses offered in the new curriculum, students are expected to develop hard research skills in addition to self-awareness and reflection skills. Many courses are similar to those offered in the current General Education Curriculum, falling into subject areas including but not limited to natural science, symbolic reasoning and written communication according to UR’s website.

One of the biggest changes that will be observed is alterations to the first-year seminar program. With the new curriculum, incoming students will only be required to take one first-year seminar.

“FYS can be valuable, you know; it gives students a little bit of pathway or insight into what they can study in particular fields or in particular majors,” political science professor Kevin Cherry said.

The general education committee made the decision to cut one of the required first-year seminar classes because the current structure is not effective in accomplishing its goal of teaching students college-level writing skills, Bezio said.

“What students are getting out of [FYS courses] is pretty radically different depending on who they have, and so they can get through two semesters of FYS and never have taken one of the ‘writing courses,’ which then means that they have never taken a writing course,” Bezio said.

The only current requirements for first-year seminars are that students must write 20 pages of academic writing through the course of the semester, according to UR’s website. Therefore, professors can teach these classes however they see fit, whether that be as a writing, research or discussion-based course. This results in first-year students learning a variety of different skills, but not necessarily those that UR hopes to provide to first-years.

The general education committee spent a significant amount of time evaluating and determining how to best rework the FYS curriculum to better support the needs of incoming students according to Cherry.

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“This sort of creates this topic-based course that is still going to focus on critical thinking and some of those other kinds of skills about being able to communicate with other students,” Bezio said.“[To create] this general-purpose college course where there is still work, and assignments, but you only need one of them.” 

Contact news writer Abby Ioannou at abby.ioannou@richmond.edu 

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